Older people with diminishing mental or physical capacity can be easy targets for financial abuse. This may occur when someone exploits a position of influence or trust over an elderly person to gain access to that person’s assets.
Here are red flags of elder financial abuse:
- Sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters
- Unusual or unexplained account withdrawals, wire transfers, or other financial changes
- Cash or other items missing from the home
- Drastic shifts in investments
- Abrupt changes in Wills, trusts, power of attorney, or beneficiaries
- Concern or confusion about missing funds.
If you work for a bank or other financial institution, your state may require you to report suspected cases of financial abuse of an elderly person. In most states, you can report concerns to Adult Protective Services (APS), whose role is to investigate and intervene if needed.
As a senior, you can protect yourself by making sure your financial and legal affairs are in order. If they aren’t, consider hiring a professional to help, and be sure to ask and check that the professional is registered. You also may want to enlist the help of a trusted friend or relative.
If you are a concerned friend or family member, ask to look at the person’s account statements to check for any unauthorized transactions. Call and visit as often as you can. Isolation can increase the vulnerability of the elderly to financial abuse.